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31 janvier 2014 5 31 /01 /janvier /2014 11:18

This paper deals with sex education during three periods of time: the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial (national) periods.

I- Pre-Colonial “Sex Education”

Even though the notion of sexual education has not been used in Morocco until the beginning of the 20th Century, an array of prescriptive and normative discourse on sexuality has been developed by the Moroccan traditional society targeting children and adolescents. Four sets of knowledge seem to us to constitute the nucleus of traditional sexual education: literature, law, sensual knowledge, and medicine. At first, the combination of those three sets of knowledge aimed at sexual socialization, i.e., construction of two identities of distinct and hierarchical nature (male and female) based on biological sex. Secondly, the four sets of knowledge combined within the same discourse would be transmitted to the child and adolescent in the form of information and normative prescriptions that will regulate eroticism and reproduction. “Religious” parents (teachers of Qur’anic schools, imams of mosques or doctors of law (‘ulama)), barbers, healers, traditional midwives were the principal bearers and transmitters of this discourse.

Sexual socialization aimed at the establishment of hierarchical and distinct sexual identities. In fact, rites of pregnancy, child birth, children games and rites of marriage revealed a discriminatory and unequal treatment of the sexes to pull boys out of femininity and build up their personality as powerful men. The young girl is born a woman and remains as such (horizontal axis), while the boy is destined to be a man, i.e., powerful (vertically ascending axis). The birth of a boy is the occasion for a collective satisfaction, expressed in the most zealous ritual: the most numerous dinghies, the bath of the boy’s mother seven days after delivery is the most ceremonial. In the Moroccan patrimonial parenthood system, the birth of a boy reassures the perpetuation of the lineage (i.e., the perpetuation of the name and identity). “The house which gives birth only to girls is a deserted house”, affirms an Arab dialectical proverb.

Violence and risks characterize boys’ games, while girls’ games are sweet, cautious and motherly. An intensive initiation of girls to ward domestic work is undertaken quite early. By contrast, boys’ socialization is made in the sense of preparation to public life founded on male chauvinism and masculinity, aggressiveness and competitiveness. Each sex has its own proper space, the space of boys being that of remunerated work, both public and political. Sexual borderlines are drawn within and through the organization of space.

The course leading toward public space of power begins, for boys, by the rite of circumcision [1]: This act symbolizes exit from the female world and the passage to the male space. In fact, circumcision should be comprised as a means of integration to the world of masculine virility [2]. After circumcision, the boy does not accompany his mother to the female bath, but goes with his father to that of men. All of a sudden, the world of women is transformed into a prohibited area and progressively becomes an object of desire. This transformation of women into objects of sexual desire reassures parents of the success of socialization. The obsessive fear of having a homosexual boy (passive) is effectively the cornerstone of the patriarchal buildup of masculinity. It follows from this that pre-marital heterosexual activity of boys is less prohibited thanks to the lax patriarchal socio-cultural interpretation of Islam because it reassures parents of the “good” sexual orientation of their boy: a heterosexual boy is correct, from the patriarchal standpoint. In fact, for the ordinary, even the extraordinary Moroccan man, being sexually correct is being heterosexual[3].

This normalizing heterosexuality is tested upon the rite of defloration. It is proved by the capacity to deflower the spouse upon the night of entry-penetration. This night is for men a proof of truth, i.e., of virility. By the latter, the male becomes man (rajel) by succeeding in deflowering his bride. The same patriarchal paradigm makes this night a proof of the virginity of the young girl (bint). Access to social status highly praising women (being a desired object, a powerful mother) is inconceivable before this fundamental night. In this perspective, there is no room for the young girl to have pre-marital sexual relations.

Man (rajel) is the one who controls his wife (wives) and children. Hence, “the simple act of publicly manifesting signs of familiarity or affection towards his wife bestows sometimes on a man the pejorative qualities of ‘rouijel’ (half-man) or ‘hnin’ i.e., affectionate, tender, which would be contrary to the nature of a rajel…” [4]. The rajel is the tough man, while the rouijel, is the delicate man [5]. The rajel does not allow himself to be sexually guided by his spouse, he is the master initiator who should control the sexuality of his women at all times (spouses, girls, sisters…).

I-2- Transmission of Sexual Knowledge

On the basis of this sexual socialization producing two distinct gender identities, the transmission of sexual knowledge is grafted. This knowledge is situated within the framework of sexual ethics initially transmitted to the child through the family. In fact, symbols garnishing the text of tales (literature) allow the transmission of sexual messages from one generation to the other, while safeguarding the unspoken of taboo of sex within the household. Tales use symbols to bypass censure and evasion. As an example, the tale of Aicha[6] offers a perfect illustration of this hypothesis of tales as didactic support of the transmission of Islamic sexual ethics to the child. This vision makes conjugal harmony and fertility two major objects of sexuality. On the one hand, the tale shows to the girl how to subjugate sexuality to marriage, pleasure and procreation; on the other hand, it shows to the boy how to be sexually responsible within the framework of marriage. However, the tale is keen to show how pre-marital sexuality is dangerous for the boy and totally unacceptable for the young girl [7].

By acting as such, the tale picks up the vision of the Muslim (Moroccan) right to sexuality: rejection of pre-marital sexuality, increasing the standing of marital sexuality (the high frequency of intercourse purifies the hearts and predisposes the person to love and good deeds [8]). Regarding bachelors, Ibn Ardun [9], this Moroccan jurist of the Sixteenth Century, enumerated the advantages of marriage: preservation of the look, preservation of sexual organs, the erotic-lewdness framework, the development of the sense of responsibility, patience and self-control, and the pre-tasting of erotic pleasures in heaven. Further than that, he shows to the married male how to behave sexually since the wedding night. Ibn Ardun recommends to the groom to observe the following approach:

  1. To start by saying gentle words to the bride, to make her forget her fright and nervousness, take her by the arm tenderly.
  2. Caress her and kiss her.
  3. Take off clothes completely.
  4. Not to penetrate the bride as long as she does not manifest a desire to.
  5. Not to have pleasure before the bride: reunion of the two “waters” together (simultaneous orgasm) is the culmination of pleasure and the basis of affection. “The groom should take into account the right (of the bride) during copulation”, since “the origin of hatred between the spouses is sexual disagreement”.
  6. Have sexual intercourse with the spouse once every four nights. However, the husband should increase or decrease the frequency of intercourse according to the needs of his wife to help her protect herself, immune herself against all temptations to adultery.
  7. The reproductive end can be bypassed by the interrupted copulation (‘azl) or the utilization of condoms.

This acceptance of sexuality by the law and initially by the Qur’an and the Sunna, led Muslims to develop an erotic science, which shows to the believer “how to make love with God’s blessing and his word” [10]. Erotic science transmits knowledge related to the typology of sexual temperaments, to the vaginas and penises, sexual positions, female orgasm, aphrodisiacs, sterility…. Regarding the difference of right, erotic science is equally preoccupied with illegal and “abnormal” sexuality.

In fact, Islamic urban tradition since the third century Hijri produced prescriptive treatises on sexuality. This trend has been pursued until the twentieth century, as testified by the book of A. Belghiti [11] in Fez, and the “Return of the Old Man to Coitus Aptitude” of Ibn Kamal Basha (who died in 1573/ 940). Moreover, Al Suyuti (who died in 1505) produced two books: Al ‘idah fi ‘ilm an-nikah (Explaining the Knowledge of Marriage) and Ar-rahma fi at-tibbi wa al-hikma (Mercy in Medicine and Wisdom). All those works are consulted by the masses, where they find elements of sexual education, indeed of sexual therapy to treat sexual malfunction. Their style, close to spoken language, makes them accessible references to the semi-educated. For example, the Scented Garden of Nefzawi, a largely commercialized work in libraries and popular bazaars, constitutes a real treatise of sexology at the level of the masses. “Its easy language reduces the distance between oral and written literature (that of the elite)… That is why it is (more) popular… the science of Nefzawi pertains to popular medicine” [12], largely accessible to the masses”.

For those who cannot read, this popular medicine is transmitted by teachers in Qur’anic schools, barbers, healers, traditional midwives, and wet-nurses.

Traditional midwives (qablat) notably should be considered as real sexual educators. They managed (and continue to manage in a certain measure) women fertility and intervene in all what concerns relations between the sexes. They are specialized in aphrodisiac mixtures, formulae and recipes to conceive male children, herbal tea to wake the sleeping baby up, amulets to turn men impotent or a woman “impenetrable”. According to R. Mathieu and R. Manneville, traditional midwives are specialists of the body, female body in particular [13].

Servants and wet-nurses also educate youngsters and push that process so hard to the extent that, according to M. Decrop, “despite the early marriage, young girls are perfectly informed about realities thereof” [14].

I-3 Actual Function of Traditional Sexual Knowledge

Traditional sexual knowledge is functional also today at several levels: in defloration and sexual positions, in “explanation” of HIV-AIDS, contraception, abortion…

At the level of defloration and sexual positions, a small civil servant in Rabat[15] summarized an even more widespread attitude: “Women should be deflowered at the first attempt… One should not ejaculate in the vagina upon defloration, otherwise the woman would be like a swamp… After defloration, one should sit the woman up straight in such a way that blood would not penetrate inside her…”. Further on, he added, “the normal position is at the same time the legitimate position, it is the position where the man is above the woman… It is a perverted thing to leave the woman go above the man… From the vagina, a very harmful acid-resistant material goes out. Hence, if the woman is above the man, this material penetrates the penis and can lead to sterility and impotence… Women should be accustomed to be under men”, he concluded.

At the level of HIV, predominant social images are even remoter than bio-medical knowledge; this is even more so among the youth [16]. In fact, spontaneous epidemic sciences and ordinary slump make HIV-AIDS a social structure made up both of scientific elements, value judgements, and explanations derived from pre-modern medicine and superstitious-religious beliefs. Spontaneous epidemic science links HIV-AIDS to aliens, to specific social groups, but mainly to women. As for ordinary ethics, they explain HIV-AIDS by coldness, debauchery, supernatural intervention and corporal proximity. Within this ordinary vision, women are considered as the source of all venereal diseases. The genital organ of women is in fact perceived as a container that can keep either the mixed sperms (of debauchery) or simply coldness. This organ is perceived as a cold and humid place, and its humidity is said to be a favorable medium for the formation of filth, microbes and viruses. This popular perception finds its fundamental roots in Arabic medieval medicine in which the genital organ of the female is an opening, farj, thaghr, i.e., an open border-place to the outside inimical world [17]. As such, female sex is a passageway, an opening, which, from the perspective of diseases, represents a “place for privileged exchange between the human body and the outside world”. In one word, it is a hole through which the winds penetrate[18]. This medieval Arab medical perception of the body, inherited from Greek-Roman antiquity (Hippocrates and Galien), is thus exploited by popular traditional views to accuse female body in specific of being the reservoir of perturbing natural elements of health. In sum, accusing the coldness is accusing women, coldness being characteristic and symbolic of women in patriarchal anthropology.

At the level of contraception and abortion, magical rites are developed to provoke or hinder defloration, erection, fertility and to interrupt pregnancy. Colonial ethnographers such as E. Doutté, E. Mauran, H. Renaud, A. R. de Lens and D. Legey as well as Moroccan pharmacologists such as Jamal Bellakhdar described those traditional practices perfectly mastered by traditional midwives. To face the inaccessibility [19] of modern reproductive and sexual health care, the majority among the Moroccan population resort to herbs and/or magic to resolve problems of defloration, erection, sterility or involuntary pregnancy.

To conclude, we can argue that some positive elements of the traditional normative discourse on sexuality can be maintained in the design of modern sexual education program. For instance, the positive vision of sexuality and the necessity of making pleasure for both partners out of it. However, several elements of the traditional vision of sexuality should be corrected, such as the rejection of certain sexual positions, the perception of conjugal defloration, the explanation of HIV-AIDS, the magical ritual, superstition… However, the element most widely discussed today by the youth within the Islamic tradition is pre-marital abstention. Is it a good means to prepare oneself to establish good sexual relations among the couple? Is it possible in a society where the average age for first marriage goes up for reasons both financial and cultural?

For the majority of French Protectorate doctors, confronted with the scourge of syphilis in Morocco, the anti-venereal struggle superseded sexual education (defined as prevention). Even worse, syphilis was perceived as a symptom of degeneration of the Moroccan race. Magical recipes and superstition used by Moroccans against venereal diseases were described by medical ethnography. Since 1920, the ethnographer E. Laoust has demonstrated in Berber Words & Things[20] how Berbers treat syphilis, scabies, blennorrhoea, and warts. Thirty years later, Louis Arnaud has addressed the same question: “how Moroccans treated their venereal diseases in the past?” [21].

Within the framework of the anti-venereal struggle, the colonial power promulgated a royal decree on 28 January 1914, which made the declaration of contagious or epidemic diseases obligatory (syphilis on top of the list). Hence, a systematic medical checkup was imposed by the State in Morocco following the hygienic model. It was marked by coercive and humiliating actions of sanitary control, the use of disinfectants and vaccination. Those coercive actions have anchored on “micro-resistance” [22] among the population.

On the other hand, colonial authorities regulated prostitution. This process was marked by the establishment of brothels and specialized quarters in order to facilitate medical control of sexual workers. In the wake of 1945, the 26 dispensaries specialized in venereal diseases, ophthalmology and tuberculosis[23] received a clientele composed mainly of women.

However, M. Decrop has rightly estimated that we cannot contemplate a rational organization of the anti-venereal struggle without integrating it with sexual education: “the latter should educate not only the fundamentals of anatomy, physiology and moral principles of sexuality, but also the dangers they pose… It is understood that first of all it should address educators, he reminds… Mainly, young students of instructors’ schools prepared and trained for social assistance should be the first to receive appropriate education. However, there is also an interest to educate those who are in charge of religious education within families, and fiqh (jurisprudence) to boys and girls. One or several lessons on sexual education, during which different aspects of the problem would be broached. It can be fitted in during the discussion of duties related to purity. Hence, while conforming to orthodoxy in the strictest sense, the Muslim population would be exposed to modern concepts concerning sexual life and its consequences” [24].

Thus, it is clear that the notion of sexual education, which refers mainly to the erotic art within the Moroccan traditional society, changed its orientation upon contact with the West. For the authorities of the French Protectorate, sexual education was mainly preoccupied with the scourge of venereal diseases and how to teach Moroccans to prevent them. This evolution was due to progress in medicine and more specially the discovery of microbes and antibiotics.

In the wake of independence, we have witnessed the disappearance of the notion of sexual education, even the acceptance of the struggle against venereal diseases. Instead, contraceptive education was implemented in order to teach Moroccan women to limit pregnancy and leave space between deliveries. Then, this contraceptive education was succeeded by an education on population, lavished by a greater number of actors. This type of education surpassed the only target group of married women at reproduction age to attempt to disseminate consciousness of the correlation between population and development amongst school population. Following the Cairo Conference on Population and Development (1994), we have witnessed a timid return to the notion of sexual education when the contraceptive education programs of HIV-AIDS were elaborated. Finally, thanks to foreign audio-visual media, the youth discovered the erotic content of sexual education and thus bridged a national gap.

Following the adoption of family planning in 1966, the Moroccan Association for Family Planning was created in 1971. Its task consisted of raising awareness among the population and offer family planning services. In 1977, the experience of house visits was launched to motivate people to adopt family planning. In 1989, the State elaborated a national strategy to raise public awareness and provide information on family planning. In 1993, the Ministry of Public Health implemented a strategy of contraceptive education and family planning. The promotion among the masses aims at transforming family planning into a culture of the masses. Given the high illiteracy rate, the utilization of modern media such as the radio and television were adopted. Traditional media [25] such as halqa (circle), souk (bazaar), qabla (midwife) and fqih (jurist) were equally used to induce rural population to use contraceptives. The task of informing unmarried women at reproduction age was delegated to non-governmental organizations, such as the Moroccan Association of Family Planning. This association focused on unschooled youth and designed messages on contraception addressed to the sexually active population.

Despite resistance exhibited by the rural population, the reduction of the Synthetic Index of Fertility (SIF) was remarkable at the longitudinal level and testified to the success of family planning programs. During the period 1962- 1997, the SIF has in fact scored an outstanding reduction of 20% between 1962 and 1980 and 56% between 1962 and 1997.









Moroccan fertility has gone down by more than half in 35 years. The decrease of fertility rates reached all ages without exception. More specifically, premature fertility has decreased, the percentage of adolescent mothers has gone down from 8.5% in 1982 to 4.5% in 1995. In the same vein, the fertility rate among the 15-19 year-olds was 35% only.

The education on population program appeared after the World Conference on Population held in Bucharest in 1974 as “an educational response to current demographic, economic, social and political problems” [26] within a context of demographic transition without real industrial development.

In Morocco, the launching of Education on Population (EOP) has started in the early 1980’s, with the signature of cooperation agreements between diverse ministerial department and the FNUAP and the signature of an accord to create a coordination cell of activities between contraceptive education and education on population programs. This cell was set up by the Ministry of State for Interior Affairs and for Information, the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Investment, the Ministry of National Education and the Moroccan Association for Family Planning. Since 1994, this cell has been publishing a bulletin called At-Tarbiya As-Sukkaniya (Education on Population).

The establishment of Education on Population (EOP) programs within formal education [27] has started in 1981. At the curricular level, EOP has been integrated with various already existing subjects: Arabic language, history/geography, Islamic education, natural sciences, female studies [28]. Until 1996, the latter subject was uniquely taught to female college students. The first step toward the leveling of the two sexes has been accomplished in 1996, “when it was decided that boys and girls should profit from this subject, given the fact that it focuses on the family and questions related thereto… (This subject) deserves to be called family education instead of female education”[29]. However, the manual has not changed. Consequently, boys were bothered to use a manual bearing the title “Female Education[30] and which in fact addressed female college students as future mothers. Furthermore, this subject was not taught in all Moroccan colleges.

At the secondary school level (lycée), programs deal with historical data on AIDS, its modes of transmission and methods of prevention, and present detection methods through Elisa tests and Western Blot for scientific sections[31].

However, assessment studies undertaken by the Ministry of National Education show that EOP in schools has had a modest effect on demographic behavior, mainly in rural areas[32].

The non-generalization of education and widespread illiteracy led all ministerial departments of the coordination cell of education on contraception and EOP to integrate the latter into programs of combating illiteracy, agricultural and sanitary counseling. Thus, the Ministry of Youth and Sports (Women Department) has planned training on EOP to its managing cadre female centers at the national level in order to integrate this program. On its part, the Ministry of State for Interior has also its awareness programs for citizens on the interaction between population and environment. The Ministry of Arts and Crafts and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs have consolidated the EOP in programs of combating illiteracy for the benefit of 200.000 citizens annually in social centers. Manuals where fundamental notions of EOP were integrated have been printed. Fifteen instructors of the National Institute of Social Action (in Tangiers) have been trained on EOP program. In its turn, the Ministry of Public Health consolidated activities related to education on contraception within the domain of maternal and infantile health and family planning and organized activities[33] on EOP.

Following the International Conference on Population and Development (held in Cairo in 1994), Morocco began to use the notion of reproductive health, and to a lesser extent that of sexual health. The Ministry of Youth and Sports launched a campaign to raise the awareness of 30.000 young girls on questions of reproductive health. “A reference book has been produced in conformity with the recommendations of the ICPD, and themes of reproductive health, HIV-AIDS have been introduced in training models” [34].

By putting forward a worrying rate of diffusion of HIV [35], the Ministry of Public Health has instituted a National Program for Combating AIDS (NPCA), including EOP programs aiming at prevention against the disease [36]. “Programs of Education on Contraception focusing on reproductive health concern mainly family planning, maternal health, venereal diseases and AIDS… The Ministry of Public Health ensures actions of sanitary education through the division of health education, which is at the core of the population department”[37]. Within this framework, didactic material has been produced[38], including posters, information bulletins on AIDS, TV spots…

Furthermore, an anthropological-sociological study on the educational responsibility of HIV patients has been undertaken by the Ministry of Health with providers of health care within the public sector[39]. Sexual education was one of the themes debated within discussion groups. It focused on how care providers defined sexual education, and “measured” their predisposition to diffuse it and identify their material needs.

The synthesis of viewpoints expressed by Moroccan public sector health care officers allows us to distinguish between four components of sexual education:

  • A biological component, consisting of transmitting scientific knowledge on the sexual anatomy and physiology. This is the first stage of sexual education that public care officers call “primary prevention”, which lies in “knowledge of the human body, genital organs and their function…”
  • An erotic component, which contrasts the pleasant with the unpleasant aspects, includes techniques of the sexual act and pleasure. This content is least developed among Moroccan public care officers in general. As for those who talk about it, they do so specifically to say that young girls should not be targeted. It is the most indiscriminate content of religious norms, raising the highest controversy and “arguments” among defenders of Islam to reject sexual education. Most often, sexual education is reduced only to this erotic component.
  • A contraceptive component, consisting of exposure to techniques of contraception.
  • A preventive component, unraveling the nature of HIV-AIDS, its dangers and the means to avoid it.
  • A normative component, which draws the boundary between the permissible and the prohibited in the name of Islamic frame of reference, so that sexual education does not become an incitement to debauchery. It is the most polemic component, the most developed. In fact, within the Moroccan non-secularized society, where the place of Islam remains preponderant to the level of the norm, sexual education is a resisted notion so long as it is defined as legitimizing extra-marital extra-heterosexual sexuality, and as proclaiming gender equality within the sexual domain (among others). Consequently, the notion is discussed in terms of its targets (age, sex…), its agents (parents/educators/public care officers), methods, language used and media support. Some public care officers confirm that sexual education cannot signify sexual liberty within an Islamic country, nor can it be except a theoretical knowledge of sexual anatomy, an incitement to early marriage, fidelity to the spouse and avoidance of “perversion” (such as homosexuality)[40]. In other words, sexual education should be a simple “Islamized” technique not aiming at transmitting values such as the right to sexual pleasure outside the boundaries of marriage or those of heterosexuality. Within this framework, integrative physicians think that there are only two methods for avoiding HIV, pre-marital abstinence and conjugal fidelity, which are “theoretically” in contradiction with the “policy” of the Ministry of Health, which promotes condoms as a means of prevention. To opt out of the dilemma, they reaffirm that the condom should be the last resort, as a stopgap.

The survey undertaken by the Ministry of Health attempted to identify the gaps of education on HIV-AIDS, in order to adopt a syndrome-related approach consisting of “treating the (HIV) patient immediately from all important casual agents”[41]. Thanks to this approach, the Ministry of Health favored the preventive sexual education of patients. The syndrome approach includes in fact a section aiming at educating the patient and reducing the risk of re-infection, promoting condoms, informing partners and guiding the HIV patient toward less risky sexual behavior. According to the Ministry of Health[42], three years, i.e., between 1997-2000 were required to generalize the syndrome approach and diffuse it within Morocco at large.

How does Moroccan youth learn to make love? What is the public source that informs them in this domain? [43]

Many youngsters recall having read nothing about eroticism. The weakness of reading is compensated by a huge consumption of international TV channels or movies in cinemas. According to CNJA[44], 70% of young city-dwellers fill their free time by watching TV. Through this medium, the young Moroccan exercises some kind of disengagement[45] with the taboos of the community. Moreover, the screen becomes the main channel of reception of international sexual culture for the young Moroccan.

The consumption of sex films is essentially centered in coffee-shops and cinemas, in public places, away from the sacrilege of the parental household. Coffee shops and cinemas are considered here not as places of socialization and cultural activities, but rather as profane places where borderlines vanish.

The age boundary is one of the abolished borderlines in those places. Seven-year-old boys attend pornographic films in the presence of adults, despite official ban. Children, adolescents and adults consume the same erotic scenes, thus putting an end to boundaries between the generations.

The sexual boundary seems better resisted. Coffee shops where one watches sex films are uniquely attended by men. Mixture finds here a limit not yet overcome. In fact, for young girls, watching sex films is something more difficult in public places such as coffee shops and cinemas. Furthermore, apart from the content of films, cinemas and coffee shops are more frequented by men[46]. Cinemas for girls would be places of moral perversion, and “going out to cinemas represents a clandestine exercise”[47]. All the more so, when a sex movie is concerned, the girl is further inhibited.

The consumption of sex movies does not signify the acquisition of cinematographic culture. Youngsters pay attention neither to the name of the director nor to main actors. They do not even recall the title of the film they watched and cannot summarize it. For them, what is important in those movies is that they constitute a visual introduction to the ways of making love. Objectively speaking, those films are a pedagogic tool through which boys learn “to kiss, make love, change sexual positions…”. Thanks to those films, they discover oral sex. Youngsters complain that nobody talks to them about such thinks in their surrounding or at school, and those films naturally respond to a need and fill an important gap in their education.

Young girls express also the same needs in terms of erotic education and “justify” their consumption of sex movies by the necessity of learning how to sexually behave with their husbands. Hence, the pedagogic function of those sex movies is also confirmed by girls who express their need of a pre-marital erotic culture.

However, we should highlight also that, against the silence of educational authorities regarding erotic knowledge and know-how, the virgins of the countryside are nowadays initiated into sexuality by prostitutes in order to teach them how to enjoy their marriage. With the complicity of their family or friends, prostitutes show them what to do with their husbands on the first marriage night[48].

To conclude, we can reaffirm that consumption of sex movies as well as prostitution constitute instruments of erotic education and fill a gap left by Moroccan educational institutions in this context. Mainly through the screen, the stranger becomes the initiating master and teacher of Young Moroccans as far as eroticism is concerned [49]. What is even more serious is that the silence of educational institutions on sexual pleasure makes their informative message on contraception and prevention more susceptible to be less heard and followed because the erotic needs of adolescents and youngsters in general are not taken into account. Official sexual education is still dominated by the only preoccupation of safeguarding public health and good morals. The adolescent is not yet perceived as an individual having a global expectation to sexual material, and even less as a citizen with sexual rights.

General Conclusion

Premature sexuality, the space-sexual fiddling, simultaneous multi-partnerships, adultery, the adaptation of sexuality to non-sexual ends such as male and female sexual work, rape, incest, artificial virginity, erection malfunctioning, spread of HIV, incidence of AIDS among bachelors and youngsters [50], involuntary pregnancy and abandonment of children, are some of the manifestation of sexuality in Morocco today [51]. This alarming situation is the result of an anomaly. It consists of the discrepancy between the ideal Islamic objective of subduing sexuality to marriage on the one hand, and de facto sexual liberalism, which is a response to political (sex as drugs) and economic (sex as a source of revenue and a stimulus to consumption) ends. In fact, the Moroccan citizen is the target of an ambiguous social message from the State, pertaining both to repressive Islam and practical laxity at the judiciary, media and sanitary levels [52]. In fact, while penal codes regarding sexual affairs are still marked by repressive Islamic ethics, they are surpassed by the overexposure of sexual consumption and extra-marital sexual practices. On the one hand, judiciary authorities are torn between sex as legitimate need in modern societies and the necessity for survival. And even if they decide to incriminate all extra-marital and extra-heterosexual relations, they cannot do so given the amplitude of this phenomenon. On the other hand, the free sale of contraceptives and condoms and the hidden practice of abortion and the stitching of the female sexual organ, objectively work towards “protecting” extra-marital sexuality, which is still experienced through the prisms of immorality, trade and male domination.

Consequently, the predominant sexual liberalism is very artificial. It remains superficial. It is lived savagely, illegitimately and in the absence of education, without the necessary sexual education that should have accompanied it. For example, contraceptive education for young girls and the promotion of condoms in terms of ethics are quite timid. At this level, ignorance is quite pervasive and the needs to know and know-how are important. We can legitimately ask why those needs are not appropriately responded to. Couldn’t the Islamic ideal of premarital abstinence lead decision-makers to close their eyes before the dramatic sexual life of young people? Is it the major obstacle that prevents the adoption of an explicit and rational sexual education policy?

In fact, since the mid-1960’s, a policy of sexual education has been adopted without the notion of sexual education being explicitly used. Different programs broaching contraception and AIDS were implemented. Hence, since 1966, contraceptive education has been launched within the framework of family planning to address married women at reproductive age. In the early 1980’s, education on population (EOP) was adopted by the school system to make adolescents sensitive to problems of reproduction, the environment, venereal diseases and AIDS. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs participated in this school program through Islamic education programs and female and family education.

During the 1990’s, contraceptive education campaigns have been devoted to HIV-AIDS problems. Here, the Ministry of Health and associations have exerted efforts to raise the awareness of the population, through TV, radio broadcast, the press and conferences. In this framework, the Moroccan Association for Combating AIDS (MACA) has especially aimed at the so-called high-risk groups, mainly prostitutes and homosexuals, groups that public authorities are ill-at-ease to recognize and deal with. Less inhibited by institutional constraints because it belongs to civil society, MACA was able to “put forth information projects addressing prostitutes and homosexuals in Casablanca and Rabat…”[53]. The Ministry of Health itself has begun to be explicitly interested in sexual education since 1997[54] and to perceive it as a fundamental preventive measure.

At the university level, A. Dialmy has publicly asserted in 1999, on the basis of his work on sexuality of youth [55] and social structures of HIV-Aids [56] (on behalf of the Ministry of Health), that “sexual education has become a public necessity in Morocco”[57].

At the level of civil society, the Moroccan Association for Family Planning (MAFP), created in 1971 with the aim of raising public awareness and offer family planning services, prohibited the right of the youth to information in its strategy 2000 and established a contraceptive education program regarding sexuality[58]. According to this association also, “youth sexuality is often circumstantial and utilizes only means of prevention such as condoms”[59]. It also rightly maintained that it “is one of the only organizations to broach the problem of sexual health of adolescents. Youth committees have been set up and they transmit their knowledge through youth associations and within national youth centers”[60].

Consequently, we can emphasize that sexual education has been acceptable in principle to institutional actors and civil society, and in a more explicit way from that time on[61]. Sexual education explicitly emerges as a social need, a public necessity and a factor of development. In 2001, the Ministry of Health adopted the notion of sexual education in its “National Strategic Plan to Combat AIDS”. However, it reaffirmed that, in order to establish programs on this subject, it was necessary to coordinate efforts with the National Ministry of Education and Ministry of Religious Endowments (Awqaf) and Islamic Affairs[62].

This search for coordination surpasses the institutional framework and refers to the necessity to strike a much larger consensus. In fact, given the dissatisfaction of adolescents, parents and feminists, different contraceptive education programs on PF/EOP/HIV-AIDS seem to have missed their objective. Adolescents have clearly affirmed that these programs totally overlook their need for an erotic education[63]. By contrast, parents are scandalized by these same programs that they deem responsible for “debauchery”[64] of their children and for growing sexual problems. As for feminists, they estimate that the preventive preoccupation has neglected the struggle against sexual discrimination and gender power relations, while the “gender” dimension is part of sexual protection and prevention[65].

In fact, the search for coordination and consensus shows that the notion of sexual education needs to be defined in a more explicit, clear and acceptable way in order to reach a coherent and integrated national sexual policy. Contraceptive education programs on PF-EOP-HIV-AIDS currently in force do not build upon a clear and acceptable definition of sexual education, a notion that they all use as a vehicle but without making it explicit or implementing it. These programs lack policy (due to the absence of a definition of the notion of sexual education), thus remaining in fact torn between two major references, socio-religious educational traditions on sexuality and the comprehensive definition of sexual education as stemming from the International Conference on Population and Development (held in Cairo in 1994). Faced with social and religious traditions, the action program on ICPD recommended a recognition of and respect of the right of the youth to a safe and satisfactory sexual activity, to information on sexuality, to sexual education and health.

The rift of programs between two “apparently” contradictory references imposes a way out of the blurry definition: what is exactly meant by sexual education in Morocco? Is it simply a question of transmitting knowledge concerning sexual organs and their function? Is it only meant to teach the youth erotic techniques to reach utmost pleasure? Is it an education aiming at the promotion of gender equality? Does it only focus on teaching the youth how to avoid HIV and involuntary pregnancy? Further than that, does it recognize sexuality as a human right independently of sex, matrimonial status and sexual orientation in such a way as to liberate the individual and provide him/her with necessary autonomy? Does sexual education aim at the transmission of pure knowledge, know-how or know-how-to-be? Understood in a comprehensive sense, sexual education is all this at once. It encompasses this content and all these objectives. However, Morocco, a Muslim country and patriarchal society, cannot accept to implement automatically this comprehensive definition of sexual education. It cannot, under the name of development, totally sever with religious and cultural heritage regarding sexuality. This heritage imposes certain restrictions and limits. Furthermore, in the face of the international comprehensive definition of sexual education, Morocco cannot but develop cultural resistance for fear of putting the social order in question, and of going too far. Resistance is well understood certainly (it reflects underdevelopment also), but it is dangerous since it does not allow for setting up partial and punctual non-integrated programs within a global sexual policy. In other words, there is an implicit reduction of sexual education to its technical aspects to avoid HIV and involuntary pregnancy. Not at any moment is sexual education adopted through the paradigm of sexual health as sexual blossoming and well-being of the individual. Silence reigns in what concerns the anatomy and physiology of pleasure.

Consequently, from now on, the major importance is to question all actors concerned with sexual education (adolescents, educators, institutional decision-makers and leaders of associations) on what they understand by sexual education. Which attitude do they adopt regarding sexual education? Is their attitude warm and permissive? Is it by contrast restrictive and hostile? How do they combine between those two dualities, warmth/hostility and permissiveness/ restriction? What do they keep out of sexual education as it was expressed in religious and cultural traditions? What do they hold out of the comprehensive “internationalist” definition of sexual education? What do they choose as the most useful to individual and social sexual development (warm attitude) and as mostly conforming to socio-religious traditions (restrictive attitude)? What are the meeting points and those of divergence between different actors? How do all those actors define the objectives, content, stages and methods of sexual education? Is it possible to reach a minimum consensus at different levels of the question? In one word, what is the maximum level of conciliation that we can obtain between traditional and comprehensive definitions of sexual education in order to reach consensual definition? It is probably this consensual definition that would allow decision-makers to draw up a global and integrated national sexual policy. It is also this sexual policy that would re-define and bestow meaning and efficiency on contraceptive education programs regarding PF/EOP/HIV/AIDS. It is also probable that a definition of sexual education acceptable to the majority can be reached as well. However, it is less probable that a policy of sexual education would be founded on this definition, given the fact that at the political level, democracy in Morocco is not based on the majority, but on a pretended consensus in the absence of a majority.

[1] A.V. Gennep: The Rites of Passage. Paris, Emile Noury, 1909.

[2] C. Bonnet: “Reflections on the Influence of the Traditional Family Milieu on the Personality Structure in Morocco” Infantile Neuro-Psychiatric Review, no10-11, 1970.

[3] The absence of a “gay” Moroccan community does not imply the absence of homosexuality, but it means only that it is incapable of assuming itself as such. Prostitution, which constitutes the more visible façade of homosexuality in Morocco, remains the channel through which homosexuality is expressed while being condemned as illegal. This self-rejection of Moroccan homosexuals is an indication of the resistance of masculine identity and to putting oneself into question. However, this questioning is quite necessary for the participation of men in the emancipation of women.

[4] Gender and Development: Socio-demographic and Cultural Aspects of Sexual Differentiation, CERED, Rabat, 1998, p.38.

[5] We quote this distinction tough man/ delicate man from Elisabeth Badinter in her book XY, of Masculine Identity, Paris, Odile Jacob, 1992.

[6] E. Demenghem, M. Al Fassi, Fassi Tales, Paris, Ed, Rieder, 1926.

[7] A. Dialmy, Sufi Feminism: Fassi Tales and Sexual Initiation, Casablanca, Africa-Orient, 1991.

[8] Quoted by Mehdi Al Ouazzani in Minor Nawazil, see on this subject A. Dialmy: Al Maarifa wa la Jins (Knowledge and Sexuality), Casablanca, Ouyoune al Maqalat, 1987, p.71.

[9] A. Ibn Ardun, Us of marriage, living together of spouses and education of children, Lithography, no 5226, Library of Qaraouiyine, Fès. Some extracts have been translated by P. Paquignon under the title of “Ibn Ardun Treatise on Marriage and Education”, Muslim World Review, Year 5, July-August 1912, no 7-8. However, the highlighted passages concerning sexuality that we have quoted here have not been translated by Paquignon. We have published them in our book Al Maarifa wa la Jins, op. cit.

[10] A. Khatibi: Injury of the Proper Name, Paris, Gonthier-Denoel, 1974, p.133.

[11] A. Belghiti: The Book of Pleasure of Hearing Through the Words of Love-making, Fez, 1944.

[12] A. Khatibi: Injury of the Proper Name, op. cit. Pl37.

[13] R. Mathieu and R. Manneville: Traditional Muslim Midwives of Casablanca, Paris, 1951, p.6.

[14] M. Decrop: “How To Understand Sexual Education of Muslim Moroccans” op. cit., pl1060.

[15] Interviewed within the framework of the study on Male Identity and Reproductive Health in Morocco, op. cit.

[16] A. Dialmy and L. Manhart: MST in Morocco, Social Structure and Therapeutic Behavior” Ministry of Health/ USAID, Temara Printing House, 1997, and A. Dialmy, Youth, AIDS and Islam in Morocco op. cit.

[17] A. Dialmy, Accommodation, Sexuality and Islam, Casablanca, Eddif, 1995.

[18] F. Sanagustin, “Nosography and Popular Tradition”, Health, Medicine and Society in the Arab World (s.d. E. Longuenesse), Paris, L’Harmattan, Maison de L’Orient Mediterraneen, 1995, p.46.

[19] In the year 2000, 15% of Moroccans only benefited from medical insurance.

[20] E. Laoust, Berber Words and Other Things, Paris, Augustin Challamel, 1920, re-edited by SMER, Rabat, 1983.

[21] L. Arnaud, “How Moroccan Treated their Venereal Diseases in the Past?”, Maroc Medical, no306, 1950, p.1061.

[22] D. Rivet, “Colonial Hygienic Practices and Medical Care Within Moroccan Society”, Health, Medicine and Society in the Arab World (s. d. E. Longuenesse) Paris, L’Harmattan/ Maison de l’Orient Mediterraneen, 1995, p.127.

[23] Ibid. p.113.

[24] M. Decrop, “How to Understand Sexual Education of Moroccan Muslims”, Maroc Medical, no306, 1950, p. 1058-1060.

[25] Abou-Ouakil and M. Zarrouf, A study undertaken by EXPERDATA for MSP, 1988, p.7.

[26]Education on Population: A Contemporary Perspective, Educational Studies and Documents, Paris, UNESCO, no28, 1980.

[27] A. Bekkali, “Discourse on Population and the Program of Education…”, Maghrebi Symposium on contraceptive education targeting the population” MEN/ FNUAP, 1997, P.24, Arabic part.

[28]Z. Chraibi, “The Notions of Population within Programs of the Second Cycle of Fundamental Education” Maghrebi Symposium on Education on Population, op. cit., p.44, Arabic part.

[29] Ministry of National Education, Pedagogic Programs and Orientations for Teaching Family Education within the Second Cycle of Fundamental Education, 1996, p.3

[30] Ministry of National Education, Feminine Education, Casablanca, Dar At-Taqafa, 1993, in Arabic.

[31] Natural Science Program in Secondary Education (in Arabic). Ministry of National Education, Rabat, 1996, p.27.


[32] M. Fettouhi, A. Ait Lkhiari et al, The Influence of School on the Environment (in Arabic), Ministry of National Education, General Department of Educational Questions, 1996, pp.45-91.

[33] Activities of the Central Service of Education for Health on the domain of education on population, MSP/ Central Service of Education for Health, Rabat, 1989, passim.


[34] Analysis Report of the Program of Implementation of the Strategy, Kingdom of Morocco, FNUAP, Casablanca, Le Fennec, 1997, p.35.


[35] Evaluation of the National Program of Combating HIV-AIDS, Evalua/HP/J. 16-07-1997.


[36] National Program for Combating HIV-AIDS.MSP, DELM/DMT, HIV-AIDS Services, (Historiq/TWC/K), 10 March 1997.


[37] Analysis Report on the Program of Implementation of the Strategy, op. cit., p.31.

[38] INFOAIDS, MOROCCO, no 4, 31 March 1993


[39] A. Dialmy, The Educational Responsibility of venereal disease carriers in public health within Morocco, MSP/ European Union, 1997.


[40] Ibid. p.39.

[41] Ibid. p.6


[42] Regional Workshop on Sociocultural Approach in Prevention of HIV-AIDS, UNAIDS/WHO/UNESCO/FNUAP, Fez, 2001.


[43] All the data concerning sources of erotic education are drawn from our book, Youth, AIDS and Islam in Morocco, op. cit.

National Survey on the Youth, 1993. Socio-Cultural Activities of Youth, CNJA, Rabat, 1994, p.4.

[44] National Survey on the Youth, 1993. Socio-Cultural Activities of Youth, CNJA, Rabat, 1994, p.4.

[45] M. Bennani –Chraibi, Submission and Rebellion, Youth in Morocco, Casablanca, Le Fennec, 1996, pp.36-43

[46] D. Jaidi, The Public and Cinemas in Morocco, Rabat, Al Majal, 1992.

[47] M. Mellakh, High-School Students and Socialization in Morocco, Ph. D. Thesis in Sociology, University Aix-Marseille I, 1997, p.228.

[48] A. Dialmy, Masculine Identity and Reproductive Health in Morocco, op. cit.

[49] H. Davis, “Moroccan Females and the Heat of Saint-Tropez” Cahiers de L’Orient, no20, 1990, pp.197-98.

[50] The percentage of bachelors surviving with VIH is on the ascendancy. In fact, between 1986 and 1997, 20% only of persons surviving with VIH were bachelors. However, this percentage reached 39% in June 2001. Since that time, bachelors are more affected than married persons (36%). Similarly, 25.4% of AIDS patients are young, aging between 20 and 29 years. Epidemiological Analysis of Cumulative AIDS Cases Registered on 30 June 2001, Ministry of Health, DELM/DMT, HIV-AIDS Service (Title /hp/k).

[51] A. Dialmy: Youth, AIDS and Islam, Casablanca, Eddif, 2000.

[52] A. Dialmy, Sexuality and politics in Morocco, FNUAP, 2000.

[53] L. Imane: Prevention of Proximity to Male Prostitutes in Morocco, MACA, Casablanca, 1995, p.1.

[54] A. Dialmy: Taking Charge of HIV patients in Public Health Educational Programs in Morocco. Ministry of Health/ European Union, 1997.

[55] A. Dialmy: Youth, AIDS and Islam. MEAwards, 1997 (Casablanca, Eddif, 2000).

[56] A. Dialmy and Lisa Manhart: MST in Morocco. Social Construction and Therapeutic Behavior, Ministry of Health/ USAID/ University of Washington, Rabat, Temara Publishing House, 1997.

[57] A. Dialmy: “Sexual Education, a Public Necessity”, Interview with Al Ahdath Al Maghribiya, 6-7 March 1999 (in Arabic).

[58] Member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation

[59] The Theoretical Framework of Strategy 2000, MAFP, Special issue, (on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the constitution of MAFP), p.11, in Arabic.

[60] Analysis Report of the Program of Strategy Elaboration, op. cit. P.32.

[61] A. Dialmy: Male Identity and Reproductive Health in Morocco, LCPS/MERC and Ministry of Health/ USAID, 2000.

[62] National Strategic Plan to Combat AIDS, Ministry of Health, presented by Morocco to the United Nations General Assembly on VIH-AIDS (New York 25-27 June 2001), pp.18-21.

[63] A. Dialmy, Youth, AIDS and Islam in Morocco, op. cit.

[64] Masculine Identity and Reproductive Health in Morocco, LCPS/MERC and MinHIVry of Health/USAID, 2000.

[65] Project of “National Plan of Women Integration with Development”, State Secretariat for Women…2000.

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